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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Obama Unveils Plan For Nationwide Internet Access

February 11, 2011

UPDATED

President Barack Obama unveiled plans on Thursday to expand high-speed wireless Internet access to nearly all Americans while pledging to cut the deficit by $9.6 billion over the next decade.

“We can’t expect tomorrow’s economy to take root using yesterday’s infrastructure,” said the president, speaking from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

The $18 billion plan is part of Obama’s “Win the Future” initiative unveiled last month during his State of the Union address.

“We’ve got to think about what’s the next thing and make sure that we’re at the forefront, just like we were in the last century,” he said.

The president compared the benefits of expanding Internet infrastructure to that delivered by the construction of the nation’s railroads, saying it would create jobs and help rural businesses develop new products and services.

“Within five years, we want to make it possible for businesses to put high-speed wireless services in reach of virtually every American,” the president said.

Details of the plan will be included in the president’s upcoming budget to be unveiled on Monday. 

The initiative includes $ 5 billion to promote development of a 4G wireless network by providers in rural areas. An additional $10 billion would be allocated to help develop a national wireless network for first responders and emergency services, while $3 billion would be invested in research in emerging wireless technologies.

The project will be financed through the sale of available wireless spectrum, which the government says will generate as much as $27.8 billion.

In a nod to an anticipated political battle with Republicans over the growing size of the U.S. budget, Obama said $9.6 billion left over from the wireless spectrum sale would go towards paying down the deficit.

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